Dancing Leg Calipers

Calipers are used to measure round objects, both around the outside (machine parts, rifle shot) and from the inside (a rifle barrel). They were often included in cases of drawing instruments in the 18th and 19th centuries and shaped like the human body, mainly for the enjoyment of the machinist or draftsman. This pair is missing its set screw and has been welded into a fixed position. It has no identifying marks.
Reference: Maya Hambly, Drawing Instruments: 1580–1980 (London: Sotheby's Publications, 1988), 73, 88.
Currently not on view
Object Name
calipers, drawing
date made
19th century
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 11.2 cm x 4.1 cm x .5 cm; 4 13/32 in x 1 5/8 in x 3/16 in
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Dividers and Compasses
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Dividers and Compasses
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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